We just returned from a whirlwind of travel, some work and some leisure. Ray Ray's job whisked her off to various corners of continental Europe including Brussels, Berlin, Paris, and Kiev. I, on the other hand, made my way to Bermuda to present at an energy conference hosted by that island's government. A wedding in London, thoroughly attended by fellow classmates from our Bologna, Italy program, awaited us at the end of our respective trips.
Larina arrived in London about 12 hours before me. She therefore had a chance to meet up with some friends ahead of time while I wrapped up and caught what our London-native friend called the "Money Laundering Express." Given I was in coach on a 767, though I did have a window row to myself, it was hardly glamorous. I arrived at Gatwick airport just before 6:00 a.m. local time and struggled to stay awake on a commuter train into the city packed with all manner of folks heading to work.
We had each been to London a handful of times in the past, so taking in all of the sights was not on our agenda. We did, however, squeeze in a day wandering the city before meeting up with friends for dinners, bar hopping, and overall relaxation time with friends we don't see nearly enough. Christmas decorations were already up, which was an extra special treat. London does Christmas quite well. You can see more of our photos in the gallery.
The wedding itself was grand. Our friends reserved the elaborate Banking Hall, part of London's historic financial district. Pristinely preserved, one could have been forgiven for thinking they had been whisked back in time a few decades with the elaborate staging and impeccably dressed guests.
And like that, the trip was over just as quickly as it began. Our Sunday afternoon flight was a seven-hour haul back to Dulles. However, the flight was terribly empty and we had the run of a five-seat middle section with hardly anyone around us. It was one of the most comfortable trans-Atlantic experiences I have ever had.
With that, all that remains for the year is to prepare for the holidays, which means the annual Christmas Mixtape is on deck. Stay tuned for that yearly treat!